Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, Scotland Genealogy

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Parish #596

This is a guide to the history and major genealogical records of Scotland as they pertain to the parish of Kilbirnie.  To learn more about how to use these records to search for your ancestors, go to the Scotland: Research Strategies.


The name is a compound of the common Celtic prefix Kil signifying a church or cell, and Birnie, the name of the saint to whom the church was dedicated. Kilbirnie is the nearest town. Captain Thomas Crawfurd of Jordanhill was the sixth son of Laurence Crawfurd fo Kilbirnie, and Helen, daughter of Sir Hugh Canpbell of Loudon. His adventurous exploit of storming the almost impregnable castle of Dumbarton is 1571, is familiar to every one acquainted with the history of Scotland during the minority of James VI. George, fourth Earl of Glasgow; Patrick Lindsay, husband of the heiress of Kilbirnie; and the descendants of William Cochran of Edge are the major land owners. The land was primarily used for dairy cows, cattle, sheep, wheat, barley, oats, beans, clover, rye-grass, meadow hay, flax, potatoes, and turnips.

The population in 1792 was 700. The population in 1841 was 2631. The registers begin in 1688 but are not regularly kept until 1738 but have been kept regularly since that time. There were gaps when there was not a regular schoolmaster to record the information.

The number of families belonging to the Establishment may be stated at 231, families belonging to the Reformed Presbytery at 60. There are a few families of Roman Catholics, and several others of no visible religious profession whatsoever.

This account was written in 1841.

source: New Statistical Account of Scotland (Family History Library book 941 B4sa, series 2 vol.5)

The New Statistical Account of Scotland (pub. 1834-45) offers uniquely rich and detailed parish reports for the whole of Scotland, covering a vast range of topics including history, agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs. The reports, written by the parish ministers, are available online at  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish reports for Kilbirnie. Also available at the Family History Library.

Census Records

A census is a count and description of the population, taken by the government, arranged by locality and by household. Read more about Scotland Census Records.

Here is a list of the Family History Library microfilm numbers for the census records of Kilbirnie as well as the library numbers for any surname indexes available:

Years Family History Library Film Number Surname Index            
1841 1042734 CD-ROM no. 2524
1851 1042404
1861 103803
1871 103962
1881 203600 6086514 (10 fiche)
1891 220216

The 1901 census of Scotland is indexed on  To use it, you must register and pay a small access fee. All available censuses, 1841-1901, are indexed on this website. It may be easier for you to pay to use the website rather than access indexes through the library.

Church Records

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about Scotland Church Records.

Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Years Covered Family History Library Film Number
Births: 1688-1854 1041381
Marriages: 1688-1854 1041381
Deaths: 1753-1846 1041381

Condition of Original Registers

Index: For an index to these records, see Scotland’s People website, a pay-for-view website. The Scottish Church Records Index is also still available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  Some records may be indexed in the International Genealogical Index
Births: Births are recorded in the same register as the marriages.
Marriages: Prior to 1790, marriage entries precede the births for the same year. After 1791, they follow the birth entries.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970 British book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The session was made up of the minister and the land owners and business men of the parish, chosen to serve on the session. The Kirk session dealt with moral issues, minor criminal cases, matters of the poor and education, matters of discipline, and the general concerns of the parish. Kirk session records may also mention births, marriages, and deaths.

Here is a list of the surviving Kirk session records for this parish:

Minutes 1688–1715, 1738–1793, 1796–1842, 1846–1900
Baptisms 1737–1788
Accounts 1790–1830, 1846–1923
Births, Marriages and Deaths 1845–1848
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH2/208.

Nonconformist Church Records

A nonconformist church is any church that is not the Established church. Read more about nonconformity in Scotland in the article on the Scotland Church Records Union Lists.

Kilbirnie East Free Church

This congregation was formed on June 11, 1843. A hall for public worship was erected before the month of August. The church was built in 1844, in which year the charge was sanctioned.
Membership: 1848, 234; 1900; 1900, 314.
Source:Annals and Statistics of the United Presbyterian Church, by Rev. William MacKelvie, D.D., pub. 1873. Film #477618. More details may be given in the source, including a list of ministers.

Minutes 1843–1906, are with Communion Roll 1843–1852.
Accounts 1843–1905
Note: Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record CH3/347.

Kilbirnie West Free Church

This congregation, originally Reformed Presbyterian, joined the Free Church in 1876. The original congregation had been formed in 1823 when disjoined from a large Reformed Congregation at Renfrew. The church, which dates from 1825, was rebuilt in 1888. The manse was erected in 1830.
Membership: 1841, 130; 1877, 160; 1900, 289.
Source: Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843–1900, ed. Rev. William Ewing, D.D., 2 vols. pub. 1914. Film #918572. More details may be given in the source, including a list of ministers.

The extent of pre–1855 records is unknown.

Kilbirnie Catholic Church

Kilbirnie was a mission area before a church was established in 1852. It was served from Dalry prior to that time.

Mission Baptisms 1846–1847
Note:Available at the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, record RH21/88. Other records date from 1859 but are not deposited.

Civil Registration Records

Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Each parish has a registrar's office and large cities have several. The records are created by the registrars and copies are sent to the General Register Office in Edinburgh. Annual indexes are then created for the records for the whole country.

See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.

Probate Records

Kilbirnie was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of Glasgow until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Ayr. Probate records for 1513- 1901 are indexed online at  You must register on the website but use of the index to probate records, called 'Wills & Testaments,' is free. You may then purchase a copy of the document or, if the document is before 1823, it will be on microfilm at the Family History Library. To find the microfilm numbers, search in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Ayr and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Glasgow.

The library also has some post-1823 probate records for Ayr.  Look in the library catalog for the 'Place-names' of Ayr and the subjects of 'Probate Records' and 'Probate Records - Indexes.'

Read more about Scotland Probate Records.

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